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PETER JOHNSTONE. An ill-informed plenary council for the Catholic Church.

Only those in blind denial could fail to realise that the Catholic Church in Australia is now in the midst of a massive and existential crisis. It is, above all, a crisis of governance. The Catholic bishops’ main response to this crisis in Australia has been to propose a ‘Plenary Council’ for 2020. Archbishop Coleridge, appointed by his fellow bishops to guide the preparation for the council, has recently said that the Church is facing “the biggest crisis in its history”. Yet the planning for this plenary council is already suffering from the poor governance that it is supposed to address eventually in 2020. The bishops of Australia are not consulting the people of their own dioceses on the issues. Not surprisingly many Catholics continue to desert the Church as they witness the substantial problems of the Church being kicked down the road to 2020 with little prospect of solution. Continue reading

Posted in Religion and Faith | 8 Comments

JOHN MENADUE. The growing social divide.

There are ominous signs that Australia is breaking up into different social tribes.  Our claimed egalitarianism and social mobility are under serious challenge.  A mixed society is the best guarantee of social cohesion and social improvement.  That social cohesion arising from ‘inclusive growth’ is also good for the economy. But social cohesion rather than economic growth is the key national building block.  Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Education, Health, Housing, Politics | 4 Comments

ANDREW FARRAN. Parliamentary eligibility – did the High Court get it wrong? (Part 2)

Prime Minister Turnbull now asserts that the onus is on individual Parliamentarians to prove their non-dual citizenship status (a status that previously did not disqualify). How can the onus of proof be put on them when that determination may be in the hands of an external authority? Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 6 Comments

ANDREW GLIKSON. A privileged few ignore scorched Earth in race to Mars

Scientific exploration of the solar system planets constitutes one of the most exciting achievements of the human race. However, the idea of colonizing Mars may prove to be one of the most misleading, creating an impression that an alternative exists to planet Earth, which is a unique haven of life in the solar system, perhaps even in the Milky Way, and which is currently suffering from dangerous heating, rising oceans, extreme weather events, mass extinction of species and a growing risk of a nuclear calamity. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

EVA COX. The non-economic causes of political trust deficits – What is to be done. Part 2 of 2

It was not so long ago that the functions of more social democratic nation states were legitimated and visible because they represented wide public ownership of many physical resources and delivered many essential and community services.  Whether that form has elements in it that  would allay current problems and improve future governance needs to explored. What is clear is the need to reverse and reform the causes of deep distrust.   Continue reading

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

JOHN WARHURST. The Coalition’s special disrespect for unions.

The raid on the offices of the Australian Workers Union by the Australian Federal Police demonstrates a disrespect for trade unions contrary to the Catholic tradition. Since the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum in 1891, Catholic Social Teaching has recognised the right of workers to join together collectively in unions as an important element of the search for the common good in a market economy. The political theatre indulged in by the Employment Minister Michaelia Cash and the Registered Organisations Commission is especially worrying for the deeper attitudes it reveals.  Continue reading

Posted in Industrial relations, Politics | Leave a comment

JOHN MENADUE How Murdoch and Abeles twisted the arm of the Hawke Government to help Ansett Airlines at the expense of Qantas.

In a blog last Friday I recalled that Rupert Murdoch had said that he had never asked a Prime Minister for anything. That is quite brazen. From my own personal experience I know that is just not true. One early example which I describe below is an example of the way that Rupert Murdoch operates, in this case in association with Peter Abeles, to extract concessions from governments. At the time in 1988 Murdoch and Abeles had a business partnership in Ansett Airlines. I was then CEO of Qantas. Continue reading

Posted in Economy | 2 Comments

EVA COX. The non-economic causes of political trust deficits – The function of trust Part 1 of 2

Good democratic governance requires those in power to both be seen as both trustworthy and representing voters , effectively and fairly. Those ostensibly in control need to provide evidence that they are delivering, or ensuring access to those services and resources that are seen as public responsibilities. The disappearing common wealth and rising focus on individualised self-interest benefits need to be seen as causing the rising anti-elite, populist politics that undermine social cohesion, rather than  just blaming the changes on  limited economic flaws, e.g. the GFC. If we are to restore trust in good democratic processes, we need to recognise and address the social effects of citizens being redefined as customers in the shift to market models, as well as  the increased invisibility of public good and goods.    Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 2 Comments

PETER HUGHES. Citizenship for “them” and citizenship for “us”

There is great irony in the fact that the citizenship weapon which the government so recklessly aimed at migrants ended up blowing up in the face of its own parliamentarians. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

RICHARD BUTLER. The showdown between principles and interests.

The conflict between principles and interests now afflicting the US polity is stark. Participants from all sides of the political mainstream know that Trump’s presidency is proving disastrous and that they will need to act to rectify this. For now, the Republicans are continuing to prefer the pursuit of their partisan interests to acting to rescue the system of principles and institutions vital to the Republic; which are repeatedly jeopardized by Trump and his rampant egocentricity.  Much is at issue for the US and globally.   Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs, Politics | 7 Comments

GILES PARKINSON. South Australia’s stunning transition to consumer-powered grid

South Australia is already being hailed – or in some quarters demonised – for its leadership on renewable energy technology.  A new report from the Australian Energy Market Operator highlights how far out in front it is in the transition to a consumer-powered grid.The earlier comments by Turnbull and Frydenberg are now looking even more petty and ill informed. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 2 Comments

ROBERT MANNE. A Symbol of Inhumanity: Australia’s Uniquely Harsh Asylum Seeker Policy – How Did It Come to This?

Robert Manne is Emeritus Professor and Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at La Trobe University. An earlier version of this analysis was published a year ago, but Professor Manne has written a new postscript in light of some disturbing recent events on Manus Island.

If you had been told thirty years ago that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world, you would not have been believed.

In 1992 we introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 17 Comments

RODNEY TIFFEN. The age of the mega-leak

The Panama Papers looked like the culmination of a new era for leakers — and then the Paradise Papers came along. But can we expect action to follow? Continue reading

Posted in Media, Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RICHARD BUTLER. Iraq 2003: the Fabricated War of Choice

Gordon Brown has revealed a report showing that US intelligence Agencies knew Iraq did not have WMD and told the Bush Administration so. The invasion of Iraq was a war of choice, preferred by Bush, and Blair which Howard joined with alacrity. Continue reading

Posted in International Affairs | 5 Comments

BOB SORBY. Of Pipes and Pipedreams

Life is an equation in hydrocarbons was a favourite aphorism of the late RFX Connor, Minister for Minerals and Energy in the Whitlam Labor governments of 1972-1975. The phrase belied a deep understanding by Connor of the Australian petroleum and natural gas industry at the time together with a suggestion of big ideas waiting to be explained. One big idea that Connor had was the need to develop Australia’s natural gas deposits to maximise their economic return in the international market and secure sufficient gas reserves to satisfy Australia’s domestic requirements, both domestic and industrial, for the foreseeable future. Continue reading

Posted in Infrastructure, Politics | 2 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM. What is Malcolm smoking?

Taking a break between grave matters of national security and remembering the holocaust in Israel, Malcolm Turnbull said somewhat incongruously that he was having more fun than he had ever had in his life. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 1 Comment

GILES PARKINSON. Garnaut says NEG may do little for prices, certainty or competition.

Leading economist Ross Garnaut has delivered a critical appraisal of the federal government’s proposed National Energy Guarantee, warning that it will unlikely deliver lower prices or investment certainty, and could simply lock in the power of the big incumbent generators. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | Leave a comment

MICHAEL WEST. The Minerals Council, coal and the half a billion spent by the resources lobby

There is no peak body  or rent seeker in the country which conducts its business as belligerently, and its proponents would say as successfully, as the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA). In 2010 it ousted a Prime Minister. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Politics | 1 Comment

LUKE FRASER. Regional infrastructure: if you want something done right…

There is a not-so apocryphal story of a senior government minister explaining his regional policies to party colleagues. Somebody is said to have asked “what is your ‘Regional Assistance Strategy’?” to which he is said to have replied: “It’s a room in a building, in a country town, with a phone.  You pick up the phone.  You ring the number we provide and when somebody picks up, you say “get me the f*#k out of here!’” Continue reading

Posted in Economy | Leave a comment

JERRY ROBERTS. The Corruption of Representative Democracy

John Menadue’s lament in his Thursday post for the loss of trust in our public institutions was so comprehensive that it left me feeling devastated.  His re- posting was inspired by Senator Jacquie Lambie’s criticism of lobbyists and it is to the Senate that we must look for assistance. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MUNGO MACCALLUM. Real Malcolm stands up and tells First Australians to piss off

After a week of incompetence, chaos and downright embarrassment Malcolm Turnbull may have been looking for a silver lining. Continue reading

Posted in Politics | 5 Comments

MICHAEL LIFFMAN. Asylum seekers: what now?

In the face of the paralysing  – and with the closure of the centre in Manus, accelerating – crisis in Australia’s asylum seeker policy, I propose the revival of an initiative I first suggested ten years ago, but which remains relevant and arguably adds  further moral integrity to the call by Brennan/Costello/Manne/Menadue  for the admission of those still in detention or banned entry to Australia…. Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 6 Comments

MARTY NATALEGAWA. The Menadue Oration-“Can Democracy Deliver?”

Inaugural Menadue Oration of the Centre for Policy Development (CPD), delivered in Melbourne on 2 November 2017,the tenth anniversary of the establishment of CPD. John Menadue was the founding Chair.

Can democracy deliver?  As one who has traversed Indonesia’s now more than a decade-long transformative democratic journey – such that today it constitutes the world’s third largest democracy – the reply to such question can only be resoundingly in the affirmative: yes! Continue reading

Posted in Asia, International Affairs | 1 Comment

SPENCER ZIFCAK. Australia elected to UN Human Rights Council – despite international condemnation.

Two weeks ago, Australia was chosen as one of two new member nations on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Before one gets too excited about this achievement it is worth noting that our country’s election was uncontested. There were three countries vying for two positions on the HRC – Australia, Spain and France. France dropped out of the race just weeks before the election was due to be held. Spain and Australia, therefore, walked unopposed into the two spots that remained. It was just as well that there was no contested election. This nation’s human rights record is nothing of which we can be proud. And as it happens, the UN itself has been sharply critical of several aspects of Australia’s human rights performance in the three months before, and the two weeks after, the country’s success. Continue reading

Posted in Human Rights, Indigenous affairs, International Affairs | 1 Comment

SUSAN RYAN. Skills retraining still more miss than hit.

Like car manufacturers who, despite decades of notice, still left many workers stranded, NAB’s more sudden announcement underlines the fact that massive redundancies are not only a feature of “old” industries. Continue reading

Posted in Economy, Education | 1 Comment

MARTIN TAYLOR. How weak laws and weak enforcement are failing our wildlife.

How weakened laws in Qld and NSW are failing our wildlife and how the Australian Government is doing little to prevent it. Continue reading

Posted in Environment and climate | 1 Comment

PETER ARNOLD. Ethics and the AMA

Interestingly, the committee appointed by the Victorian government to report on ‘assisted dying’ was headed by the immediate past-president of the AMA, neurosurgeon Brian Owler. Neurosurgeons have a close connection with this problem when patients with severe head injuries have been on life-support for days or weeks with no apparent chance of meaningful survival. Continue reading

Posted in Health | 2 Comments

RAMESH THAKUR. Australia’s gulag of shame

Manus Island detainees are back in the news. In this article published more than a year ago, in the Japan Times, Ramesh Thakur asks: Do Australian Cabinet ministers and departmental heads really value their jobs, and the power and perks that come with them, so much that they are prepared to be complicit by association in the torture of innocent children, facilitated by a policy of bribing and bullying Pacific neighbours? Has Australia really been reduced to this sorry state? Continue reading

Posted in Asia, Human Rights, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

FRANK BRENNAN. Questions Ardern can ask Turnbull about Manus.

When Prime Minister Turnbull meets with New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Sunday, he will receive a renewed offer of help from New Zealand in relation to Manus Island.  For the last four years, New Zealand has offered to take 150 refugees from Manus Island.  Messrs Turnbull and Dutton have seen fit, unilaterally and contrary to the signed agreement with PNG, to step in (on behalf of PNG presumably) and refuse New Zealand’s offer of help.  At the same time, they continue to say that these refugees are the responsibility of PNG.  It’s hard to see how they continue to have it both ways.  Continue reading

Posted in Refugees, Immigration | 6 Comments

TESSA MORRIS-SUZUKI. Manus Island – Mr. Turnbull, Just Say ‘Yes’

The nightmare scenario that everyone has predicted for months is now unfolding. Desperate and frightened refugees are digging in the ground for tainted water. Hundreds of men who are dependent on psychotropic medication because of neglect and mistreatment now have less than a month’s supply of medication left. But there is a small window of hope. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern has offered to take 150 of the refugees, possibly opening the way to other resettlement arrangements. Malcolm Turnbull meets Ardern on 5 November, and has the choice of accepting this offer, or slamming the door in the faces of the refugees. Mr. Turnbull, just say yes. Continue reading

Posted in Politics, Refugees, Immigration | 4 Comments